The 2022 Edinburgh International Festival program is back with a bang

The Edinburgh International Festival marks its 75th anniversary with a return to Edinburgh’s theaters and concert halls on a scale not seen since 2019.

While last year pandemic restrictions meant the EIF revolved around three marquee (socially distanced) venues, the 2022 Edinburgh International Festival will see 14 venues hosting 87 events and over 160 performances from over 2,300 artists.

The free opening event is back. This year’s show MACRO at BT Murrayfield on Friday August 5, is set to set the tone for this year’s festival with a music and light show from Australian contemporary circus trope Gravity & Other Myths, First Nations dance company Djuki Mala, National Youth Choir of Scotland and Celtic musicians Aidan O’ Rourke (fiddle), Kathleen MacInnes (vocals) and Brìghde Chaimbeul (pipes). Details of MACRO, which is free but paid, will be announced on June 27.

This will be Fergus Linehan’s last year as festival director, before Nicola Benedetti takes over in October 2022.

Notably, this year’s Festival is piloting a number of artistic residencies as part of an ongoing effort to make the Festival more sustainable by reducing the amount of travel required.

Strong points

Highlights of the EIF 2022 program include:

the Philadelphia Orchestraled by conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, in residence at the International Festival through four concerts: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Angel Blue, Karen Cargill and the Edinburgh Festival Choir, Florence Price’s First Symphony, chamber works by Mozart and a special free afternoon concert to celebrate the Festival’s 75th anniversary.

Amsterdam International Theater in residence at the Festival with two epic performances from the company’s repertoire – the UK premiere of A little life based on the novel by Hanya Yanagihara and an adaptation of the novel by Thomas Mann The magic mountain. These rub shoulders with a new adaptation by Édouard Louis Eddy’s end by Toneelschuur Producties.

The Philharmonic Orchestraincludes an orchestral concert with South Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho, a concert by Fidelio conducted by Sir Donald Runnicles, a chamber recital and three performances of Rusalka by Dvořák from the Garsington Opera House.

As a member of UK/Australia Season there are a record number of Australian artists at this year’s EIF. Performances include the Australian World Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta; Gravity and Other Myths in MACRO and The Pulse; the European premiere of You know we belong together by Julia Hales; a history of post-independence Sri Lanka and Australia as an immigrant nation in S. Shakthidharan Count and Crack; didgeridoo player William Barton with the Chineke! Bedroom set; and violist Brett Dean performs with the Hebrides Ensemble.

There is a new production of Dvořák’s most beloved operathe dark fairy tale Rusalkafeaturing the Welsh soprano Natalia Romaniw in the title role. The show is also conducted by Douglas Boyd, Artistic Director of Garsington Opera and performed with one of the resident orchestras of the 2022 International Festival, the Philharmonia Orchestra.

The world premiere of Scottish Balletit’s Coppelia, is reimagined for the digital age by British choreographers Jess and Morgs with a mix of location and real-time filming, projection and live performance. Delibes’ original score is re-imagined as part of a new composition by Mikael Karlsson and Michael P. Atkinson, performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.

the contemporary music program features a jazz legend Herbie Hancock in its debut at the International Festival; electronic artist who pushes the limits square pusher; New York-born Afro-Puerto Rican rapper Princess Nokia; spoken word artist Kae Storm; Detroit techno icon Jeff Mills; Scottish duet Arab strap; Romanian folk supergroup Taraf De Caliu; and compelling American singer-songwriter Ezra Furman.

The contemporary dance program includes Akram Khanit’s new The Jungle Book Reimagined which reimagines Mowgli’s journey through the eyes of a climate refugee; the UK premiere of Kyle Abraham An untitled love on the R&B legend’s music D’Angelo; and the company Aakash Odedra samsarawhich is inspired by Western, Indian and Chinese dance traditions.

Muster Station: Leith – a new immersive walking show created by an award-winning theater company Iron Grid is to mark the culmination of the International Festival’s four-year residency at Leith Academy.

Among European orchestras returning to Edinburgh Usher Room there is the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Les Siècles, Hespèrion XXI, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra with the world premiere of Precipice Dances by Daniel Kidane.

Meanwhile, morning recitals are back at Queen’s Hall with piano maestros Bruce Liu, Ronald Brautigam, Malcolm Martineau and Steven Osborne; vocal recitals by singers like Anne Sofie von Otter, Golda Schultz and Florian Boesch; and chamber music by Chineke! Chamber Ensemble, Takács Quartet and more.

the National Theater of Scotland returns to the International Festival with Alan Cumming for his solo dance-theatre debut To burninspired by the life of Robert Burns, and Liz Lochhead’s powerful adaptation of Medea arrives at FEI 2022 starring Adura Onashile in the title role and directed by Michael Boyd.

A season of contemporary theatre, dance, visual art, film and conversation, under the banner Refuge was created in collaboration with the Scottish Refugee Council to explore the themes of refugee status, migration, identity and inclusion.

As part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, dream machine creates an immersive experience using light and sound to explore the potential of the human mind. It takes place at the Murrayfield ice rink. Created by Collective Act, it brings together Turner Assemble Award-winning artists, Grammy and Mercury-nominated composer Jon Hopkins, and a team of leading technologists, scientists, and philosophers.

“2022 is a special year for the Festival,” said Fergus Linehan, artistic director of the FEI. “We hope it will mark a turning point in the pandemic that has turned all of our lives upside down for the past two years. It’s our 75th anniversary and an opportunity to pay tribute to our first artistic director, Rudolph Bing, a war refugee in Europe. And this is my last year as director of the festival as we pass the reins to a new generation. Edinburgh is more than a collection of shows, it’s the great annual meeting place for artists and all those who love music, theatre, dance and literature. We hope you will join us once again for this unmissable celebration.

Accessibility

As part of the International Festival’s ongoing commitment to accessibility, the 2022 program includes audio-described, subtitled and performed performances in British Sign Language, tactile tours, relaxed performances and free tickets in classical music concerts for more than 250 young people.

Last year, the EIF component At home featured 18 full-length performances, available on demand on the EIF website.

Backed by global investment brand abrdn, the Festival’s digital At Home program in 2022 will feature behind-the-scenes interviews, exclusive music sessions and performances filmed at iconic Edinburgh locations. Full details will be announced over the summer.

Reservation for the 2022 Edinburgh International Festival opens to the general public on Friday 8 April. EIF friends can book today.

The FEI runs from August 5 to 28, 2022.

Darcy J. Skinner